Upstart Austrian manufacturer Hydrospace continues to make moves in the personal watercraft arena.
In late April, the company announced the acquisition of Benelli Motori, part of European motorcycle powerhouse Benelli. The company was formed in Italy in 1911 and has been producing engines since 1920. The acquisition has prompted the company to change its name to HSR-Benelli, a move that company leaders feel best combines the spirit of the two companies.
“Benelli has been making motorcycle engines forever in Italy, for both their own line and other European manufacturers,” said Hydrospace-USA head Dave Bamdas, whose company distributes the brand in the United States.
The Benelli acquisition is seen as key to the future of the Hydrospace brand, as it will now allow the company to control every aspect of product design and manufacturing. The promise is that Benelli Motori engines will contribute to the future of Hydrospace products outside the company’s current, stand-up only arena.
“It’s big news,” said Bamdas, who likens the relationship to another Austrian company, Rotax, building engines for BRP. “For them to take the step of acquiring an engine manufacturer so that they can control their own destiny, now they can do everything internally.”
Runabout Models By 2008
One of the first things that is reportedly in the plans is the production of the company’s first runabouts, rumored to be up to a trio of high-horsepower two-seaters. At least one, if not all, should be ready for the 2008 season, as Hydrospace and Benelli have reportedly been working together for nearly a year.
“With this runabout, they have the potential to be the Ferrari or Maserati of the watercraft industry,” Bamdas continued. “They are all about racing, all about ultimate performance, and that’s where they’re going to remain. They’re not going to make a three-seater, they’re not going to make an entry-level four-stroke. They’re going to make the premier, cutting-edge, carbon fiber bad ass on the showroom floor. They’re really driven.”
As to just how high that horsepower might be, early indications are that the company could produce engines in excess of 300hp.
The runabout development program is reportedly already in full swing in Europe, with top racers currently testing hull designs. “They’re big horsepower,” confirmed Bamdas. “It’s going to be a neat product line.”
When those runabouts do make it to U.S. shores, the existing Hydrospace dealer network will be carrying the line. Currently, Bamdas says there are about 20 dealers in the U.S. currently selling the S4, with another 15-18 in the midst of credit approval. That number is expected to grow because of the strong demand in the U.S. for performance runabouts.
Despite the change, the current S4 standup will continue to offer a Weber engine, at least for the immediate future.
Contingency Program Expands
HSR-Benelli recently unveiled a contingency program, which will pay racers bonuses for competing aboard the company’s product. The company will offer racers contingency support on a number of series, including the IJSBA World Finals, APBA National Championships and U.S. National Tour, EJSBA events in Spain, Holland, Portugal, Belgium and France, UIM World, European, and Oleron championships. psb
Copyright 2007 Powersports Business